main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Film: Déjà Vu
It's a phenomenon known as Déjà vu. It's a phenomenon known as Déjà vu.

Alex: You don't have to do this.
Doug: Maybe I already have.

2006 film starring Denzel Washington, Val Kilmer, Jim Caviezel, and Paula Patton.

Following a deadly ferry explosion on Fat Tuesday that kills hundreds of US Navy personnel and their families, New Orleans ATF officer Doug Carlin (Washington) finds the body of a woman near the wreckage who appears to have been tortured and killed before the ferry explosion.

While pursuing the evidence, he is recruited by another government agent (Kilmer) who brings him to a small team that has a machine that can view anything in New Orleans four days and six hours in the past, which they hope will help them find the killer. When Doug eventually figures out how the system works, cue the Time Travel Tropes.

This film contains examples of:

  • Ahem: Done when making the technician to stop looking at Claire naked in the shower in the past.
  • Arc Words: "What if you had to tell someone the most important thing in the world, but you knew they'd never believe you?" "I'd try."
  • The Big Easy: Played With, the emphasis is on a ferry rather than on the typical street events of Mardi Gras.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Claire and Future Doug drive the car with the bomb inside off the ferry. He helps her escape but he himself is trapped and dies. The man who comes to pick her up is Past/Present Doug and cue Arc Words and the Beach Boys.
    • The smile at the end also suggests that Doug remembers or has an of idea what happened... somehow.
    • It must be a little deja vu.
  • Broken Record
    Doug: That broached the field, right there. That broached the field, right there. That's what broached the field.
  • Car Chase: Chasing a car that doesn't exist in the present, no less! Consequently, Denzel's character appears to others to be driving crazy for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
  • Chronoscope: The key plot device. If supercharged, it even permits physical time travel.
  • Dead Partner: At the start Doug's partner, Larry, has his car found at the bomb site and though he is dead he is accidentally killed by Doug's note.
  • Death Is Cheap: Going on the mission back in time to stop Claire from dying.
  • Eat the Evidence: Larry's body is fed to an alligator, but not totally eaten when found.
  • Evidence Scavenger Hunt: After the bomb, in Claire's house and at the suspect's house.
  • Guns Akimbo: With sub-machine guns no less.
  • Handguns: The only weapon in this film except Claire's revolver and the sub-machine guns at the climax.
  • The Hero Dies: Well, sort of.
  • Hero Insurance: Aside from him saying "Send paramedics to the bridge" no mention is made of the serious injuries and possibly deaths Doug causes driving half blind that results in multiple car accidents.
  • Historical Rap Sheet: The last time that the Time Machine that is central to the plot was used to actually try to send something into the past instead of just viewing it, the power necessities accidentally caused the Northeast blackout of 2003.
  • Ironic Echo: Does it count if Doug is repeating something back to Carroll that Carroll's past self technically hasn't said yet?
    • Also, when Doug first sees Claire in the Coroner's office he calls out "Claire" to her. Later When Claire first meets Doug2, after the explosion that killed Doug1, she calls out "Doug" exactly the same way Doug had in the Coroner's office
  • Layman's Terms: Doug continuously does this when the scientists are trying to explain how it all works resulting in explanations using a blank piece of paper and a broken screen.
    Doug: I said explain it to me! Not talk science.
  • Meaningful Funeral: Claire's at the start.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Doug's note to self leads his partner to his death.
  • Noodle Incident: Half the North-East of Michigan had a blackout due to a mistake the technicians made but they blamed Canada.
    • Not actually a Noodle Incident: This is in reference to the 2003 Northeast Blackout which stretched from Boston to New York to Cleveland to Detroit to Toronto. Note that 50 million homes were affected, and these ARE Harvard guys and girls that are on Snow White, after all. "Blame Canada" jokes ran amok then as well when that happened when it was surmised that the cascading power failure originated in an Ontario power plant.
    • The original "mistake" is how they are able to look back in time (the discovery was completely by accident) and eventually send stuff back in time at the cost of a huge amount of power.
  • Phlebotinum Analogy: Alexander uses a blank A4 piece of paper to explain the "Time Window".
  • Plot Hole: We see a bunch of mysterious things at the victim's apartment at the beginning. We later learn that that it was left by the protagonist, when he traveled back in time. But he didn't visit the apartment until after he already saved Claire's life, which didn't happen in the original past. So how did the stuff get there in the original past?
    • Well, this makes sense if you accept that the time loop caused by Carlin's time travel is not actually stable. This means that Carlin may have tried to save Claire once before, leaving behind the evidence he later finds, but actually failed to stop the explosion. Remember the suspiciously familiar cell phone going off at the beginning of the movie? Takes on a greater significance now doesn't it?
      • This Troper read the above, paused, thought, and suddenly the ENTIRE movie made SO much more sense!
      • That's why they said Doug's prints were all over even though we saw him glove up! Also an aversion of audience omniscience.
    • The article on the Other Wiki includes a diagram showing that four runs of the timeline are needed in order to explain the events in the movie.
    • In Timeline 3 (the timeline before the events of the movie) Claire is burned alive and has her fingers cut off by Carroll at her apartment. Yet there is no evidence of this present in her apartment during the police investigation. Also how would Carroll have had enough time to do all that and beat Doug to the ferry in time to set off the explosion?
  • Screw Destiny: After the Because Destiny Says So speech by the criminal this becomes Doug's standpoint on the whole crime.
  • Single Tear: At the end Claire does this when she and Doug are in the car with the bomb and she's certain she's going to die.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The song "Don't Worry, Baby" by the Beach Boys playing right before the ferry explodes and at the end which is the same time as the start.
  • Stable Time Loop: Doug's mission is to avoid one since he wants to save Claire and the ferry victims.
    • If Doug failed in the movie there is a good chance that this would have started a multi-timeline loop where Doug is creating clues in one timeline that he subsequently eliminates the next time he goes back in time starting the entire process over.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Very much so.
  • Techno Babble: Making the question 'is she alive or dead?' seem difficult and this was before the Time Travel.
  • Time Travel Tense Trouble:
    • The team's not exactly sure how to describe Claire's existence (or lack thereof) as they are observing her.
    • Also evidenced by the page quote.
  • Western Terrorist: Type 1.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: At first glance, the movie seems to have more plot holes than a golf course... unless one sees through the rather convoluted storyline. Good luck figuring this out the first time you're watching the movie.
  • You Already Changed The Past: In regards to Doug's note to himself, which Larry picked up and caused his death this was already done but subverted when Doug himself goes back and stops the deaths from happening.
A Confederacy of DuncesUsefulNotes/New OrleansCalvin and Hobbes
Deck the HallsFilms of 2005 - 2009 The Departed

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy